Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Keralite builds four-seater plane in the UK

Kottayam: A Keralite is going places with family in his home-built aircraft in the UK. Ashok Aliseril Thamarakshan, a native of Alappuzha, successfully built a four-seater aircraft to go on holidays with his family to places across the UK.

It took nearly 18 months for the London-settled mechanical engineer to build the aircraft model 'Sling TSI' named 'G-Diya', Diya being his younger daughter. Ashok is the son of former MLA A V Thamarakshan. He moved to the UK in 2006 for his masters degree after completing BTech from Palakkad Engineering College.

The idea of a private plane struck him during Covid-induced lockdown.

"Initially, I used to rent small two-seater aircraft for trips after acquiring my pilot license in 2018. But since my family comprises my wife and two daughters, I required four-seater aircraft. But they are rare and even if I could get one, they were very old. This made me explore options and learn about home-built aircraft," said Thamarakshan, who works for Ford Motor Company.

"I learned about a Johannesburg-based company Sling Aircraft launching a new aircraft named Sling TSI in 2018," he said.

Thamarakshan visited the company to learn more about the aircraft and ordered a kit. He set up a workshop in his house compound and began work. The construction was periodically overseen by the civil aviation authorities in the UK, he said.

"Home-built aircraft are not new in the UK as there are companies which provide assembly kits," said Thamarakshan.

Since assembling one takes a lot of time, only retired people try their hand at home-built aircraft, he said. The lockdown period gave him ample time to achieve his goal and he completed the plane in February and soon took his first flight.

The total cost of the aircraft was around 1.8 crores in Indian rupees. The small plane has a maximum speed of 200km/hr and needs 20 litres of fuel per hour. The fuel tank capacity is 180 litres.

26/07/22 Times of India

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